As I sit on the plane flying to the 2014 NRF Show in New York City, I can only imagine what the vendors have thought up to introduce to the retail and grocery vertical. You may be asking yourself “Why are the Restaurant Technology Guys – the Internet-renowned gurus of restaurant technology – going to a retail show?” The reason is simple. Most technology that arrives in the restaurant space has already been launched and vetted in the retail space. Our goal is to give you a sneak peak at what is coming next.
For those of you who have been watching the newsfeeds and following the announcements from CES this past week, you saw that almost everyone is eagerly vying to be the next “big thing”. The technology market is becoming decreasingly expensive for increasingly faster devices. As we have covered in previous posts, the restaurant and retail market have recently started to adopt the tablet and smart phone devices for business purposes. There will undoubtedly be a number of new, innovative ways that retailers and vendors are adapting these consumer devices into the marketplace. I expect to see no less than 10 different new mobile payment providers to be displaying at the show. Also, as the functionality of tablets becomes more accessible and mainstream, I expect to see various adaptations of tablets in some very unique configurations. Along with these higher tech displays will be their counterparts – case manufacturers, pole displays, and integrated case devices – all with their own innovative technologies. With the influx of consumer-facing devices currently in the marketplace, I expect to see tablet cases for end caps, tablets integrated into dressing rooms, and other technology to be put into the hands of guests to customize their experience in all verticals.
Another trend I expect to see is the continued integration of computers to help enhance the consumer experience. In years past, brands like Nike have created a computerized method for consumers to try on clothes without even going to the dressing room. Using digital imaging and VR (virtual reality for all you non-techies), the software captures an image and the user can fully customize their look without removing one article of clothing. I expect that this trend will continue and much more innovation within this area will be on display.
One last thing I expect to see at this year’s NRF is to see a growing presence of digital signage. Brands will adopt these large and small devices to advertise within the store to specifically target consumers with ads and act as an upselling tool to increase profits. Digital signage not only reduces printing and implementation costs, with features like geofencing, near field communication, and Bluetooth, it can actively engage with consumers on an unprecedentedly personal level.
I have been in the restaurant technology industry for almost 20 years now and I can truly say it is the most incredible time to be in the retail and restaurant space. There has never been more innovation or more technology to solve problems and enhance the guest experience and I am thrilled to be a part of it.
Stay tuned to see which of these predictions will come true. What do you think will be the “Next Big Thing” to be adopted into this space?
Don’t forget to join us on Thursday at 1:00 EST, as The Restaurant Technology Guys will be doing a LIVE broadcast from the NRF Show!
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